Wednesday began our Nativ preparation for the upcoming Holiday of Sukkot. That afternoon almost all 80 of us built and decorated the 2 Sukkot that we (Nativ) and the Fuchsberg center will be using throughout the Chag. Thursday after a study session on Sukkot prepared by us Yeshiva students it was off to the Shuk Arba Minim to find the perfect to use for the week. When we arrived at the shuk it was very overwhelming because there were so many different vendors to buy from and also so many people there from many different backgrounds. For example there was a large group of Ultra Orthodox Jews there with their magnify glasses to check etrogrim to make sure that they were perfect. After a search around I ended up buying the whole set plus a Lulav bag for only 40 Shekels (aprox. $11). Friday night was the start of Chag and I decided to go next door to Moreshet Yisrael for an OK service. It was not the best but it was close and quick. It was then back to Beit Nativ for dinner in the Sukkah and hanging out time. Shabbat morning I tried to get up to go to Shul but due to the lack of sleep during the week I did not wake up in time. When I did wake up it was time for lunch in the Sukkah followed by more relaxing and hanging out time and then before I knew it Shabbat was over and so was Yom Tov because Israel only celebrates one day. Motzei Shabbat was spent packing and getting ready for our 3 day desert survival tiyul.
Sunday morning began our 3 days in the desert which meant being dirty and no showers for those days but it was well worth it. We first drove down to the Ein Gedi Youth Hostel that I stayed at for the Yeshiva Shabbaton, to daven Shacharit and breakfast. It was then off to Sapir to began our hike which started with a very bumpy jeep ride to the start of our hiking trail. Once we all were there we started our adventure into the desert. The first day of hiking was mostly flat except for a hill/mountain our two and at the end of the day a really steep downhill. Out of the 3 days this was the worst one for me because I'm not used to hiking and also we started the hike when the sun was the highest so combine all these factors and you get really bad dehydration. Thankfully I had my friend Ari to help me get through the aprox. 8 km we walked that day as well as conversations and sing-a-longs to help pass the time. After about 6 hours after hiking we reached our campsite for the first night and had a delicious dinner and a campfire before heading to bed under the stars. Monday morning we woke up at 4:30 AM in order to daven, pack up and eat so we could start hiking before the sun rose too much. The 2nd day's hike was much longer, aprox. 15 km, and much rougher/harder. There were a lot of mountains that we had to overcome that day and one of them felt like I was rock climbing. We also met up with the Kehillah group midway through the day and it was nice to see the other half of Nativ. The really nice part of Monday was that because we were such fast hikers we got to our campsite earlier then expected which allowed for lots of rest and relaxation before another delicious dinner and another campfire which included marshmallows. As well by the end of Monday we had made it into the makhtesh (crater) and got to start seeing its vastness and beauty. Tuesday morning was the same deal as Monday morning and the hike was not that bad except for this REALLY steep mountain that we had to climb. However my friend Sami helped me up to the top and it was worth it due to the amazing view overlooking the whole makhtesh. In addition form the top I was able to see just a bit how much land we had hiked in the past days. After a somewhat steep and rocky walk down to the bottom we reached the end of our hike which was in total aprox. 35 K or so (aprox. 20 mi). I know for me when I saw the end I was so proud of myself for completing the whole hike despite my non athletic abilities and my prone to dehydration. Photos from the Tiuyl can be seen here.
After the bus ride back to Beit Nativ, I had a quick dinner and then it was off to a 20 minute shower to wash off the 3 days of dirt and who knows what that was on me. That shower though was probably one of the most refreshing ones after 3 days of not showering. Wednesday and Thursday were days off which meant sleep and resting. Thursday though, there was a blood drive at the King David Hotel and a few of my friends and I decided to go save a life. The actual donation took almost no time and I can now say that I have donated in two different countries, one of which is Israel.
Friday will be spent getting ready for Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah which is only one day here in Israel and I will let you all after the chag.